Lessons Learned about Starting a Development Group in India, Part 2

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face" on everything, worse. When he ran into problems, he didn't share them with the team in the US, but tried to fix them himself. All the while, the trainees that he hired had no contact whatsoever with the team in the US. They had no personal relationship with the US developers, which just increased their sense of isolation.

The greatest problem was supervision. Not the supervision of the Indian manager for his team, but my supervision of the team in India. Even though the manager and I spoke regularly, I had no idea of the problems that he was having or of what was going on with his team--how he hired them, how he trained them, or what they were doing. While I had some knowledge of the integration issue, I took few steps to mitigate it.

The single most important thing I learned from this episode was that geographically dispersed teams require much more supervision than co-located teams. This need only increases when you factor in language and cultural issues.

When I talk about supervision, I am not saying that I should have micro-managed the team in India. That would have just created a different kind of disaster. Managing a remote team in another country requires both a different quantity and quality of supervision than managing a co-located team. It is necessary to structure things so that you naturally get accurate visibility into what is going on without micro-managing the team.

In short, the failure of the team in India wasn't primarily a failure of the team; it was a failure of management. I did not properly gauge the risks or creatively ensure that I had an accurate picture of what was going on. The greatest failure wasn't the team's or the manager's; it was mine.

In the final chapter, I'll explain what I did differently the next time.

Read Lessons Learned About Starting a Development Group in India– Part 1  and Part 3 .

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